Barrule: Celtic Band Bringing Manx Music to the World

Barrule - the trio

Barrule are a Manx band that is going places. Bringing a distinctive Manx sound to the musical style shared by musicians from around the Celtic world. The name Barrule is taken from the famous Manx summit associated with the Celtic God Manannán mac Lir, from where their Island home derives its name. The band’s debut album entitled ‘Barrule’ is being released in the UK on May 20th 2013.

The trio are made up of talented musicians Tomás Callister, Jamie Smith and Adam Rhodes. Their growing reputation has seen them supporting legendary Scottish Band ‘Blazin Fiddles’ at Yn Chruinnaght 2012 inter-Celtic festival in Isle of Man. Other appearances around the Celtic Nations have included Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany, Lowender Peran Festival, Cornwall and Cwlcwm Celtaidd inter-Celtic Festival, Wales.



Transceltic’s Exclusive Interview with Barrule

Transceltic’s Alastair Kneale interviewed Barrule in May 2013 after the early release of a track from their forthcoming album ‘Barrule’. The track ‘Ny Kirrey fo Niaghtey’ (‘Sheep Under The Snow’) features the vocals of Manx composer and singer Greg Joughin and was released to raise funds for Manx farmers, after heavy snows in late March 2013 resulted in catastrophic livestock loses and financial hardship.

1. The early release of the track ‘Ny Kirrey fo Niaghtey’ was a clear response to an unfolding disaster on the Isle of Man. What gave you the idea to release the track?

Each of us cares very deeply about the Isle of Man and her people. After seeing the tragic scenes in news reports of farmers struggling to rescue sheep and cattle, we thought that we could really help by trying to raise some money for the Manx farmers. These recent events show the relevance that traditional music still has on the Isle of Man; traditional music has always been the music of the people, and it still is. The hardships of the Manx people in the 18th century aren't all that different to the hardships we go through today. It’s a wonderful thing to think that Manx traditional music has helped raise over £6,000 to help Manx farmers affected by some of the worst snow in over 50 years.

2. How important are Manx traditional musical influences on your music and how inspiring is it to have Greg Joughin joining you on stage?

Manx music is really very special, and we are lucky to have a living tradition on the Isle of Man, after the music and the Language so nearly became extinct.

Unfortunately one thing we don't really have any idea about is the style in which it was played. This, however, is both a drawback and an advantage.

It’s a drawback because we don't have any distinctive authentic playing styles on the Isle of Man, like they do in Scotland and Ireland, but the advantage is that we can all really play a part in forging a new path for Manx music. In this way, the music of Mann could prove to be one of the most genuine musical traditions in the Celtic world, because it will be a music that is played by the people for the people and for the love of the music, like all traditional music once was! Another advantage, I suppose, is that it will not be constrained by some of the rules and regulations that dictate how a lot of traditional music should be played. It will grow naturally. Logically though, many Manx players (including Barrule) take influence from our closest cultural relations, Scotland and Ireland.

Greg Joughin is hugely respected on the Isle of Man as a singer, a musician and as a man who truly cares about his homeland. Even though we have always been lucky enough to know Greg, and Jamie is married to his daughter, it's still a total privilege and an inspiration to play music with him. He's also great craic to boot!

Barrule Band

3. Do you see your contribution as an important part of maintaining Manx cultural heritage?

As I mentioned previously, every single person who plays Manx music has a part to play in maintaining the tradition. An importing thing to remember is that it's not about maintaining what we have, as a historical throwback or a museum piece (even though it's essential to remember that traditional music is historically important) it’s about growing our culture!
Our tradition is alive, it is not ancient and out-dated, it is a living, breathing and developing part of our lives. It brings pleasure to many and it's central to the Manx identity. It's contemporary, fresh and on the cutting edge of musical experimentation and technical execution!

4. The Isle of Man, in common with the other Celtic nations of Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland and Wales has seen an increase in interest in Celtic culture and tradition. How much does inter- Celtic music influence your music?

I think every traditional musician is influenced by music from other Celtic countries. It's important that we share, collaborate and support each other in safeguarding our shared Celtic cultural identity. Personally, I fell in love with Irish music at a very young age and I have recently become more and more enthralled with Scottish music too. This is also the case with Barrule's other members, and in turn, Irish and Scottish music has influenced the band in a big way.

5. Are you excited about the release of your debut album?

Very much so! We are all very excited to see how Manx music fares on a wider stage for the very first time!

6. What’s next for ‘Barrule’ and do you have any plans to tour outside of Europe?

Our gig list is steadily growing and we are embarking on our album launch tour of the UK following the album’s official UK release on the 20th May. We are very ambitious, and we will take Manx music to anyone who wishes to hear it! America, China, space? Who knows?!

Transceltic- wishes Barrule every success. They are great guys with a bright future. Remember to get the Album ‘Barrule’ on its UK release on 20th May 2013.

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